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Friday, November 1, 2013

Surviving NaNoWriMo (Stop Worrying and Write!)

Part of a special month-long event featuring writing tips and NaNoWriMo strategies from guest writers and fellow NaNo participants.
Surviving NaNoWriMo (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write a Novel) 
by M.A. Kropp
In 2008, I decided to listen to a few writing friends and take a look at this National Novel Writing Month thing. They had been bugging me for a few years to "just try it." I did some digging, and decided to give it a try. I have missed one NaNo since then, and I have hit at least 50K each time I tried. Along the way, I have found some strategies and tricks that have helped me get it done. As always, some of these ideas may seem make sense for you; others may not. We all have to figure out our own best way of dealing with not only NaNo, but our writing in general. Life goes on, whether we are trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days or not. Work, school, family, pets, unexpected events- all of that and more flood over us, in November and the rest of the year. I hope you can find at least one thing here to help you get to that 50K mark.

1) Tell people what you are doing. Tell your family, your kids, your spouse, your significant other, your friends. If they don't know, they can't help. Some won't really understand. That's okay. At the least, they will know why you disappear for hours every day, to pound on your keyboard or scribble in your notebooks. And they can help keep you accountable. "How many words did you write today?" "How far are you?" None of us wants to drag our toes across the floor, and say, "Well, uh, not many. In fact, none." You will want to smile proudly and proclaim: "I'm at 75,000 words and it's only November 15th!" Tell them.

2) Set aside a specific time every day to write. Figure out when you are at your writing best and block out that time, if you can. Keep that appointment with your novel. If you schedule your time, not only will it become a habit to sit and write at that time, every day, but it will make the rest of your life easier, as well. No guilt over watching the latest episode of [insert your favorite TV show here]. because you will already have your writing done, or you will know you have the time scheduled.

3) Set a goal. Decide how much you want or need to get done every day. For me, that is 2,000 words. It is a bit over the 1,667 words you need to write daily to reach 50K in 30 days, and it gives me a bit of a buffer as the month wears on. For those who celebrate, Thanksgiving is also in November, and I know that is at least a day or two that I will get very little writing done. Having a buffer built up by then lets me enjoy the holiday, and still make the goal without panic or sleepless nights. You may write more than your goal some days. That is fine. Just don't write less.

4) Realize that what you write this month is not going to be very good. Few first drafts are, and since the goal here is to write 50,000 words, you can't stop to polish. Don't worry about every word choice, don't fuss over details, don't- repeat, don't- go back and edit. December and January and on are for all of that. Starting on November 1, just WRITE, and keep writing.

5) Reward yourself. Bribery works. Give yourself a small reward every day when you reach your goal. I get a bag of small pieces of a favorite candy, and when I hit that 2,000 words- yeah, I get candy! And pick bigger rewards for bigger goals- something for the halfway point and the end. It gives you something to work toward, and can keep you going when you are flagging.

6) Go dark. Turn off the Wi-Fi, log out (don't just close) of Facebook, Twitter, G+, email, IM, all of it. Close the door to the room. Get earplugs or headphones with your best writing music if the TV in the other room is distracting. I put my phone on silent and stick it in a desk drawer so I don't see the blinking red alert light. You'll get your writing done, and the world will manage without you for a while.

The best advice I can give is to simply write. Enjoy these moments spent with your creative self. Don’t obsess over word counts, or how far into the month you are. Just write your story and have fun!


By M.A. Kropp:
Six of One: A Collection of Short FantasyMeet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy. It is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Apple iTunes Bookstore, and Smashwords.


About the Author:
M.A. Kropp is married, has three grown daughters and two awesome grandsons, and lives in NH. She also has cats, a dog, several aquariums and an outdoor goldfish pond, and chickens. When she is not writing, she competes in chili competitions with her husband, who she outscores regularly. She has also been accused of reading anything that appears before her eyes: books, old newspapers, cereal boxes, and, yes, even the instruction manuals that come with stuff. Most of all, she enjoys good food, good wine (and other spirits), and good company.

Visit her blog at http://makropp.wordpress.com

2 comments:

  1. Great advice! #6 is hardest for me, but when I'm getting really distracted, that's what I do. Thanks for stopping by to share your tips!

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    1. You're welcome! It was fun. I think #6 is hard for a lot of people. We're so used to being online all the time. If it's too distracting, you need to get rid of it for a while! (Not that I am 100% faithful about it myself! :D)

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